University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


We should use the American grading scale

The Danish grading scale works poorly due to large numerical differences between grade levels, leading to many top marks

The Danish grading system is up for debate again. Education minister Søren Pind (V) wants a new grade to reward the particularly excellent performance.

I agree that the Danish scale is bad. But I disagree with Søren Pind on exactly what the problem is.

Let’s try to compare with the American scale:
A, A-, B +, B, B-, C +, C, C, D, and F

There are minor variations within the United States. A few places have A +, others don’t use C-, and some places don’t use the + and – .

There are, of course, numerical values on the letter grades. In the movie Rainman, Charlie Babbitt tells us that he had a ‘4.0 average’ in high school, but that his father did not appreciate it. He had, in other words, an A in all his subjects. If we were to compare with the Danish scale, it is easier to multiply all the values by three. Then you get: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3 and 0

In comparison, we have the Danish scale: 12, 10, 7, 4, 2, 0, -3.

I find it hard to see why we need the grade -3. But the real problem with the Danish scale is that differences between grades are way too dramatic. It is very difficult to give grades on a scale with these leaps between grades. This apparently leads to the effect that when you fluctuate between 10 and 12, it might too often land on a 12.

If we introduced the American scale, it would be easy to explain to the world what our grades mean, and we would have a scale that has survived for almost 100 years in the US.